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How to: The Role of a Personal Mentor

April 4, 2022

by Steve Trefz, Director of the Wesley House of Study; Kairos Affiliate Professor

 

The Kairos University approach to theological education requires mentoring. Why? Because a Christian life of discipleship requires mentoring!

In order for growth and transformation in a student’s life, the mentor team plays an essential role. In particular, the personal mentor operates in a unique and holy space in a student’s life. All of the roles on a Kairos mentor team have meaning and purpose. The work of the mentors integrates together much like a student’s journey through the content, character, and craft components of the curriculum.  Without the personal mentor’s participation, however, a Kairos student’s journey clearly suffers.  Growth is limited. Transformation becomes harder to come by.

A personal mentor operates in the space between a student’s personal life and their vocation. This person uses the trust that already exists in the mentor/mentee relationship in order to ask questions of character throughout the Kairos journey.

“How are things going at home? How’s your family handling your vocational call? When is your Sabbath?  How do your finances align with your values? Where is joy occurring in your community?”

Questions like these are essential to successful vocation, and a Kairos personal mentor works to make sure that the student’s answers and work in these areas become a part of the assessment conversation within a mentor team.

Who might make an amazing personal mentor? A wise fellow member of the congregation, a best friend since high school, a family friend that seems to always be there, or a trusted co-worker who has access to your faith story. Anyone who has a student’s trust, is familiar with the student’s life and home, and believes in the power of Christ and the disciple’s journey will make a great personal mentor.

There definitely are some learning curves that come with living into the Kairos personal mentor role.  For instance, when was the last time you assessed anyone based on character? It’s one thing to speak into another person’s life…but it’s quite another to speak that good word while in a group of others who have just been brought together a few months prior! Working with the faculty and vocational mentors intentionally to build trust early in the mentor team relationship is vital. Being able to lift up a student in the midst of their Kairos journey and to speak life and truth into their journey is an eternal gift that Kairos can bring.

Personal mentors often find that most of the content pieces of the curriculum are new to them. That does not mean that they have no voice to offer in the conversation! As the student wrestles with the texts, lectures, and educational experiences, a personal mentor is usually the first in line to witness any learnings, struggles, and transformation. This is the holy space where “why it matters” and “what does it mean for my life” exist.  Scripturally, this is where Mary met Elizabeth after becoming pregnant with Jesus…seeking answers to these essential questions. It’s where Jesus’ disciples fulfilled their unique roles as “friends” to one another after the resurrection, seeking answers to the meaning of what was revealed to them.

At this point, you might be asking, “What does this personal mentor role require of me?” Most importantly, and intentionally, the answer to that question is “you.” You fully present with the student on a weekly basis, offering a listening ear and words of affirmation. Also present in a space of trust where you can give a word of accountability and challenge. Honest and open humans, with patience and perseverance, are always welcome. You don’t have to be perfect! The journey of a Kairos personal mentor is a disciple’s journey, and we are excited at how God is utilizing this role for the glory of the Kingdom!

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